2012 was a year of change in videogames. There were more phone and tablet games than ever before and fewer big consoles games, especially for kids. The PSP and Wii are going the way of the dodo. The good news is that Sony released the featured-filled handheld PS Vita and Nintendo released the adventurous Wii U.
Change may come, but the cream always rises to the top. Here are the Boysie Awards for this year’s best games!
BEST WII U GAME
Nintendo Land (Nintendo, Rated E10+ for Everyone 10 and Older)
If Nintendo Land wasn’t so important to understanding the ins and outs of the new Wii U, it might not have made the list. But games like Pikmin Adventure and Captain Falcon’s Twister Race are really fun and challenging. Monita the robot is friendly and funny – and a great guide to the Wii U. She’s so cool, you don’t even know you’re learning.
BEST XBOX 360 GAME
Skylanders: Giants (Activision, E10+)
I really enjoyed this new Skylanders, especially the stomping giants. Giants make you feel big and powerful, and who doesn’t want to have superhero-like strength in a world full of strange monsters that want to get you? I didn’t like the long cut scenes and the game needed online multiplayer, but the RPG elements, secret areas and humor made Giants a game I enjoyed for hours and hours.
BEST PLAYSTATION 3 GAME (TIE)
There’s no dialog in Journey, and yet it’s all about communication. Set in a strange desert world that is as lonely as it is massive, this game deals with many emotions. But the most important thing you’ll discover in Journey is a sense of friendship and camaraderie with your partner. It’s a special game you’ll remember for years to come.
LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes (Warner Bros., E10+)
How could the designers of a LEGO game squeeze tons of DC Comics heroes into just one videogame? The story is engaging. The exploration is compelling. The humor is always present. And the graphics shine on the PS3. Plus, it’s rare that kids get an open world to explore, and there’s a fine one here in LEGO Batman 2.
BEST COMPUTER GAME
Scribblenauts Unlimited (WBIE, E10+)
Use your words! You’ll not only help Maxwell save his sister, you’ll also use your words creatively to find solutions to tons of puzzles in, say, a haunted house. How about a crystalline lava owl? Yes. That’ll work quite nicely. The game designers allow for the most fascinating use of your imagination, something not enough games let you do.
BEST NINTENDO 3DS GAME
Kid Icarus: Uprising (Nintendo, E10+)
People tend to forget Kid Icarus because it was released earlier in the year. But there’s no better flying game for the 3DS. And there are tons of strange monsters, an engaging — sometimes weird — story and super excellent graphics in 3D. The whole experience made me want to see a bigger Kid Icarus game for the Wii U.
BEST NINTENDO DS GAME
Adventure Time: Hey Ice King! Why’d You Steal Our Garbage? (D3 Publisher, E10+)
The graphics aren’t that great, but neither are those on TV. The key here is a chuckle-filled, absurd series of stories that captures everything that’s wonderfully strange about the cartoon — and then some. And while finishing quests can take a while, you’ll enjoy the quirky personalities you meet along the way.
BEST VITA GAME
Sound Shapes (Sony)
This year saw a few very good music-oriented games, like Theatrhythm Fantasy. But there was something about Sound Shapes. First, the music is excellent. Add the fact that you can make the music your own by finding collectible sounds, and you feel like a music master. Finally, add platform gaming to the music, and you have something really eye-opening.
BEST OVERALL SPORTS GAME
A snowboarding game as best sports game of the year? Well, this reboot of the SSX series takes you to far-flung places of extreme danger. Can’t get to the Himalayas or Antarctica? This thrilling game will give you the snow-filled taste of the adventure that courageous, fun-seeking boarders go to great lengths to enjoy.
BEST RACING GAME
Need for Speed: Most Wanted (EA, E10+)
Let’s face it. The Need for Speed series really needed an overhaul. Most Wanted is a fantastic retooling of the game, a white-knuckle, high-speed world of chases where you can go anywhere and do just about anything. The world of Fairhaven, full of secret places, is as fascinating as the world of Zelda. Except this world has cars and cops.
BEST DOWNLOADABLE GAME
The Unfinished Swan (Sony, E10+)
Not only does The Unfinished Swan make the Move seem new again, its story is a smart riff on the fairy tales you loved as a little kid. The sense of wonder you get in this downloadable game is as powerful as any you’d get with more expensive console games. The Unfinished Swan is a triumph, a great balance of story and game design.
BEST IPAD/IPHONE GAME
Angry Birds Star Wars (Rovio)
Just when you think there’s way too much Angry Birds, they come up with the best mashup of the year. Adding Star Wars scenes to the world of Angry Birds isn’t just fun, it’s a kind of genius. The characters of Star Wars are transformed into Birds personalities, and the worlds and machines of Star Wars are so cool to play with.
GAME OF THE YEAR (TIE)
The Unfinished Swan